The Deal Wine Tasting Society is less than ten years old but forty-odd members crowded into the Landmark Centre on Deal's High Street last night for a tasting of Rhone wines. Perhaps it was the sudden drop in temperature but, certainly, everyone was up for a bit of winter warming.
The evening got off to a start with club secretary John Howard introducing me and informing the group that BRW is ranked a five star merchant by wine-searcher (which is news to me, albeit good news, of course).
Two whites to start with: Domaine des Anges, Ventoux 2010 Blanc has a sweet attack but a crisp, dry finish, just what I want from a fruity Rhone white. I had to include at least one DDA wine because John's wife Barbara is the cousin of Janet Swan who, with her husband Malcolm, bought the estate in 1973 and still lives there now. Next was the fragrant Viognier-rich Domaine de Mourchon, CDR 2010 "La Source" with notes of tropical fruits, honey and peardrops. One to drink on its own, we all thought.
Domaine de Cristia's VDP 2010 Grenache (the organic one) is very accessible with its big, easy fruit whilst the more serious VDP 2009 Vieilles Vignes Grenache (in conversion) has sweet red fruit with some vanilla and liquorice. Any choice must be a matter of personal preference as the differences are stylistic only.
I decided to include an outsider: Domaine Treloar's 2008 "Three Peaks" from Roussillon shows the quality of this region when worked with passion. It also demonstrates that the rains that affected the Rhone in 2008 had no impact here. This is a very smooth, big, flavoursome wine with a good future. Then back to Domaine des Anges for the next wine: the 2007 Cotes du Ventoux "Archange" is a Syrah-rich wine with lashings of black fruit nicely supported by the oak (in contrast to Ciaran's first vintage when, perhaps, the balance between the fruit and the oak had not yet been perfected). One of my "at home" wines.
Domaine de Mourchon, again, this time the 2005 Grande Reserve which is, surely, the best that Seguret can offer (until, perhaps, 2007 is fully mature). This wine has been slow to develop but that is something to applaud when the result is this good. A rich, rounded, complex winter warmer of a wine. Very popular too although it was followed by the one dud of the evening: Xavier Vignon's "Debut" was not in a good place at first. However, with a few minutes aeration, it did begin to reveal its potential. I do wonder whether this wine is going through a transition at the moment.
To finish off, two fortified wines from Rasteau, each one quite different from the other. First, Domaine Bressy-Masson's Rasteau Rancio, a non-vintage, almost Madeira-like wine from some sort of solera system. Lovely aromatics (and flavours too). The the 2007 Rouge from Domaine des Coteaux des Travers which is developing extremely well into the southern Rhone's variation on the Port theme with raisin characters pushing through now. Having recently tried the Puig Parahy Rivesaltes Rancios, this is clearly good value for sharing.
After all this lot, I was very pleased that I was staying with an old college friend a mile and a half away, rather than going all the way back to Barton Mills!